Crane Safety Starts with OSHA

Buzz about the May 30 tower crane accident in New York City continues as Susan Podziba, public policy mediator from Brookline, Mass., delivered her opinion to the New York Times late last week in the op-ed, “Safety Starts at the Top.”

Podziba's experience includes conducting 15 negotiated rulemakings for five federal agencies. She was hired by OSHA in 2003 to bring together union and industry representatives to update the federal crane and derrick regulations. “The existing regulations on crane safety were created in 1971 and have not been significantly revised since then,” she wrote. “Everyone agreed that the current regulations are archaic and fail to address the daily hazards faced by construction workers.”

From July 2003 to July 2004, the committee met to discuss virtually all hazards associated with cranes and how to prevent them. The group reached consensus on a set of revised crane standards. Among the pages of the 120-page draft included new requirements for testing and certification of crane operators, as well as oversight on crane assembly and disassembly.

For four years, the industry has waited. At times, it has even prodded OSHA to give the crane safety standard the immediate attention it requires. However, only under extraordinary circumstances will the crane safety regulation be passed in 2008.

“In a speech to the American Society of Safety Engineers in June 2006, Mr. Foulke told the audience that his appointment to OSHA by President Bush was his destiny,” Podziba wrote. “Destiny now calls.”

Go here for the complete op-ed.